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After my experience with Delta Airlines a few weeks ago I did what I could only do – I complained about it and I blogged about it. I wrote a complaint to Delta Airlines and also submitted that same complaint to the Department of Transportation as well as In addition I spoke with the corporate travel person at the company where I work. I figured the best I could get was the satisfaction that I at least complained. Boy was I wrong.

About a week after I filed my complaint I received an e-mail from Delta Airlines apologizing for the problems I encountered on the flight. As compensation Delta was refunding me (or, more precisely, my company) the cost of the original itinerary to Spokane, WA. The next day I received an e-mail with a letter attached from Delta Customer Service again. This time, however, they indicated that they had received a notification from the Aviation Consumer Protection Division over at the Department of Transportation regarding my complaint. As a remedy for the problems I encountered, Delta was now refunding both the original itinerary to Spokane as well as the ticket I had to purchase to return home to DC from Detroit that night and they were awarding me 9500 SkyMiles points as well. I felt happy at that point since I had achieved my goal of getting both tickets refunded as I didn’t believe that my company should have had to pay for either the original itinerary (since I never made it to Spokane) as well as the ticket to return to DC (since I wouldn’t have been in Detroit if Delta had been able to fulfill my original travel itinerary).

The topping to this whole thing came on Friday when the Delta Airlines account manager for my company’s account called me and apologized for the whole situation and gave me a voucher for $400 for any flight in the continental United States as well as moved me up to Gold Medallion status in the Delta SkyMiles program. To be honest, this was quite unexpected, but very welcome. I wish it didn’t have to come this way but I can honestly say that Delta made good on the whole situation by going beyond what I originally expected in compensation for their mistakes that night. I was looking to just get the two itineraries refunded but Delta went one better than that. That’s how customer service should work! Kudos to Delta on this one.

An excellent op-ed piece by Shelby Steele in the Wall Street Journal laying out the moral surrender of Western society and civilization that is occurring and the scapegoating of Israel and Jews in general as part of that surrender.  In it he describes how the “sanctimonious and meddling voice known as “world opinion” ” has now given legitimacy to the silliest condemnation of Israel and provides those who do so an opportunity for self-congratulations.  

But what is more troubling is that the world has lost it’s moral compass…rather than condemn Hamas for firing rockets into Israel they condemn Israel for the isolation and blockade of Gaza.  Rather than show outrage for Helen Thomas’s virtriolic language for Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and to “go home” to Germany, Poland, and America “world opinion”, in a CNN poll and subsequently in reader comments, said that she should not have retired.  Rather than examining the recent flotilla incident from a dispassionate perspective and examining the evidence objectively the world pounces on Israel and ignores the truth that the flotilla consisted of legitimate humanitarians as well as individuals who sought violent conflict with Israel.  No, the world has definitely lost its moral compass and seeks to actively de-legitimize Israel as never before.  Is it any wonder why Israelis feel under siege?  Their enemies are lauded and given free passes on anything they do against Israel, Israelis and Jews in general and when Israel defends herself she is chastised and told that she is the illegitimate product of an event that many in the Muslim world deny ever occurring.  Whereas in the first half of the 20th century the sentiment was “Jews out of Europe!” or “Jews to Palestine” today the sentiment in Western societies seems to be as Helen Thomas spat the words out: Jews – “get the hell out of Palestine.”

Shelby Steele sums up the situation quite well – the West suffers from a “deficit of moral authority” – we are:

“reluctant to use our full military might in war lest we seem imperialistic; we hesitate to enforce our borders lest we seem racist; we are reluctant to ask for assimilation from new immigrants lest we seem xenophobic; and we are pained to give Western Civilization primacy in our educational curricula lest we seem supremacist.”

(Steele, Shelby, “Israel and the Surrender of the West”, Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2010)

The West refuses to accept the fact that Israel wishes to live in peace with its neighbors and that Israelis seek to be accepted among the family of nations as has not happened since the Biblical times.  The West also refuses to accept that the entire conflict has twice come close to being resolved but in the end it was the Palestinian leadership who turned their backs on the extended hand offered to them – first by Yassir Arafat in 2000 and then by Mahmoud Abbas in 2008 – simply because the offer was not everything they wanted.  The Palestinian Authority has followed in the footsteps of Khartoum:

  • NO peace with Israel
  • NO recognition of Israel
  • NO negotiations with Israel

The West simply refuses to accept the reality that Israel’s actions are not the sole obstacle to peace but that the Palestinians, their actions and their refusal to relinquish their hatred of Israel and Jews are the real obstacles to peace in the Middle East.  The West needs to stop this abdication of its moral authority and regain its moral compass if the is ever to be a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It’s amazing how a little thing can make a big difference in your life. In early May I decided one Sunday morning to weigh myself to see where I was in terms of my weight. I was appalled…I weighed in at 210 lbs! I’ve never been that heavy in all my life. For the longest time I held steady at 200 lbs (and even that was heavy considering where I normally would weigh for many years before that). I was so angry that I decided that I was going to make some changes in my life and lose all the extra weight I had gained since I got married 14 years ago.

I decided I was going to approach the problem both from an exercise as well as a diet perspective. In the past I tried some of the “fad” diets like Atkins and they worked for me for a while…but once I reached my goal and I weaned myself off the diet I went right back to eating the way I did before and gained the weight right back. I’ve had a membership at the Wheaton Bally’s for many years (and, like most people, I would go infrequently if at all). Well, no more. These days I’m there at least 3 times a week doing weights and/or running on the treadmill at 5AM. I’ve also set two goals for myself:

  1. Run my first marathon in the spring of 2011 and
  2. Get my weight down to 175lbs

I’ve also started to run on the roads on Sunday mornings (I take Saturday off) – I’m working my way up to 26 miles. And I don’t just want to do the marathon and finish – I’m going to finish well. My goal for my first marathon will be to finish preferably under 5 hours.

On top of this I want to get back on my bike. When I was a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, I used to race bikes. I rode so many miles every week that my weight was around 165lbs (on a 5′ 11″ frame) and my body fat percentage was around 12%. After many years I pulled my old Tommasini Prestige bike out mothball and took it to Silver Cycles to be overhauled. It wasn’t cheap (had to buy new tires and a few other things) but the bike is ready. Riding the bike is like spending time again with an old friend.

On top of that we belong to the Sandy Spring CSA and have more vegetables than we know what to do with (now trying to figure out what to do with all that rhubarb they sent us this week). I’ve completely changed my eating habits and have cut out all the crap food that I was eating as well as paring down on my portion sizes. I’ve also cut down on the meager amount of meat I eat and am considering going vegetarian completely (I already have cut milk out of my diet and have switched primarily to soy milk).

Overall I feel a lot better than I’ve felt in quite a while. In the past 6 weeks since I started this routine I’ve dropped 8 lbs and my energy level has climbed dramatically. I used to run a 5K in about 35 minutes – it’s now down to 31:30 (and I’m working on getting it down to sub-30 range). I’m also working on getting my mileage on the bike up to around 25 miles per ride. On the whole I’m sleeping better and feeling good about myself mentally. It’s amazing how a little thing like getting on the scale one day can really make a difference!

June 2010

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